Anderson .Paak, "Malibu" (Empire / OBE / Steel Wool / Art Club). The new album by Oxnard singer-rapper-lyricist-producer .Paak (who adds a dot to the beginning of his surname) shows a rising artist stepping up to buzz-heavy scrutiny. Best known for his production work on Dr. Dre's 2015 album, "Compton," .Paak on his second studio album is a study in versatility. Like Chicago artist Chance the Rapper and singer-producer Pharrell, .Paak is as sharp cutting through a vocal hook as he is tearing through rapped verses.
Talent draws talent, and evidence of .Paak's ascendance can be seen in his guests on "Malibu." Its 16 tracks feature contributions from the Game, BJ the Chicago Kid, Talib Kweli, Rapsody and Schoolboy Q. The catchy funk-soul jam "Parking Lot," produced by .Paak himself, rides a thrilling hand-clapped beat through a track whose lyrics trace an hours-long conversation in a parking lot.
The great Los Angeles producer Madlib adds a bass-heavy, patient beat to "The Waters" while .Paak, a self-described "visionary in a vintage Chevy," raps of his jet-setting life. "I ain't seen the ground in days, since I grew propellers," he raps. A line later he shouts out "the liquor that killed my grandpa's liver." The POMO-produced dance floor groover "Am I Wrong" draws on '80s funk and '90s new jack swing. Taken together, "Malibu" builds on the skills .Paak introduced on his first album, called "Venice." If he keeps going at this rate, can a "Beverly Hills" mansion be far behind?
Eleanor Friedberger, "New View" (French Kiss). Friedberger first gained attention in the early '00s as co-founder of the band Fiery Furnaces with her brother Matthew. As a team, they delivered epic, angular rock songs that jumped genres and eras with gleeful abandon. On her third solo album since they went on hiatus in 2009, Eleanor entered a Hudson River Valley studio with her band and recorded a batch of songs straight to tape. Less oblong than Fiery Furnaces, her new work conveys a more pastoral tone.
Like avowed influences Van Morrison and Neil Young, Friedberger on "New View" travels in fluid, seamless melodies, and uses them in service of lyrics that revel in poeticism. Her writing style's a bit cockeyed, though. In opener "He Didn't Mention His Mother," she sings of a tryst, of waking up and feeling "just as crazy as I did last night" and of being frozen. "Cathy With the Curly Hair" recounts a meeting and eventual friendship with the titular Cathy while strummed guitar momentum builds. Friedberger captures such shattered-monocle vistas across 11 songs on "New View."
Hey Exit, "Every Recording of Gymnopedie 1." (SoundCloud). The title of this SoundCloud track accurately describes the contents. The New York ambient-noise artist who records as Hey Exit, Brendan Landis, layered a stack of recorded interpretations of French composer Eric Satie's minimalist piano masterpiece, "Gymnopedie No. 1," into a single recording, and then time-stretched the layers to equal the length of the longest version. The result might be described as Satie liquefied. The primary melody fades in and out patiently, pensively, as the dozens of fingers move at a similar but not identical tempo. As textures accrue, vaguely metered notes wash like tides, shifting in waves.